On April 13 we got an update on the grocery industry - current trends, planning for the future - from the President of the B & R Stores.

Pat provided some history of the B & R stores. The original store was at 17th & Washington. He also applauded Rotary's polio eradication efforts. He said they were very familiar with the effects of polio because the manager of the liquor store in that area was a polio survivor. He said that he overcame his physical disabilities but he knew it was a daily struggle.

The founders of the B & R stores had been co-workers at Safeway. They left to start the B (Clayton Burnett) & R (Russ Raybould) store. It was a struggle but filled a dream for the two men. After 10 years they expanded and added another store and quickly grew after that.

B & R is primarily employee owned - at 367%. They were one of the first companies to provide for an ESOP when those were made available.

Pat talked about some of the community service support including the Grocery Grab with Lincoln South Rotary. One of the largest activities is the annual Food and Wine Experience in support of the Lincoln Community Playhouse.

Pat gave us a photo-tour of the store departments including Meat, Bakery, Deli (featuring their fried chicken), Produce (particularly the fresh cut line), and the ethnic sections. He said that they are continually trying to learn what they can about the variety of foods they should carry. With Lincoln being a highly diverse community, they need to be prepared to serve everyone. He said they made great strides recently in their Asian offerings by consulting with their employees.. 

Pat introduced us to the wholesaler that they use which is out of Kansas City. He talked very highly about the award-winning company and how they support independent grocers.

Some of the new ideas in the grocery industry:

  • Online / phone ordering
  • Home Delivery - which is very labor intensive so they are considering that very carefully
  • Smaller Markets - work in some communities
  • Downtown Stores - often difficult for larger cities but some work depending on location
  • Meal Kits - competing with mail order companies
We enjoyed Pat's sense of humor throughout the presentation. And, he gave away some food products during the presentation as well.

Founded in 1964 by Russ Raybould and Clayton Burnett, B&R Stores, Inc., is today an employee-owned corporation headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska. The company currently owns 18 stores located in seven cities across Nebraska and Iowa and employs more than 2,000 people, nearly 1,000 of which are employee owners. B&R Stores, Inc., is committed to being an active partner with each of the communities it serves in an effort to enhance the lives of both its customers and employees.

B&R Stores, Inc., offers four different store concepts. Each is designed to give customers the type of shopping experience they value most while offering the high-quality products and friendly atmosphere the company is known for.

When Russ retired in 1997, he turned to his son, Pat Raybould, to lead the company. Today Pat continues to serve as president of B&R Stores, Inc.